Breaking Down the NFL Social Media Policy

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↵Word travels fast on this thing called the internet, so you’ve probably seen the NFL’s statement on social media that was sent out Monday night. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here are the pertinent details. Per NFL PR: ↵

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↵⇥The NFL informed clubs today that coaches, players and football operations personnel are permitted under league policy and with club permission to use social media on game day during specific time periods before and after games. ↵⇥

↵⇥League policy allows for the use of social media or networking sites (including Twitter and Facebook) by players, coaches and football operations personnel up to 90 minutes before kickoff and after the game following media interviews. The use of these sites by these individuals is not permitted during the game, including halftime. No updates are permitted to be posted by the individual himself or anyone representing him during this prohibited time on his personal Twitter, Facebook or any other social media account. ↵⇥

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↵How This Impacts Players ↵

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↵In essence, the NFL is creating a no-fly zone for Twitter that starts 90 minutes before the game and ends as soon as the player is done with his postgame media responsibilities. NFL PR made sure to stress that the rule does not mean 90 minutes before and 90 minutes after. Once a player is released from postgame media responsibilities he can Tweet his little heart out. ↵

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↵In addition, if Chad Ochocinco really plans on flying out a follower he can send messages to through a series of elaborate hand gestures – like a third-base coach for status updates – he’s still going to get fined by the league. ↵

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↵People seem upset, but it’s really not that bad for the players. Ninety minutes before the game seems like a long time, and certainly the network pregame shows would love for players to be able to tweet right up until kickoff, but you have to wonder if a player is more concerned about tweeting that close to game time, or during the game like Ochocinco wants to do, maybe they’re not taking the job all that seriously. Would you want the doctor doing your surgery tweeting updates while he’s scrubbing in? No, worry about my appendix that’s about to burst. Would you want your bus driver tweeting each stop he’s making? No, worry about not hitting pedestrians. Would you want your kid’s teacher tweeting out which kid is picking his nose? No, we all know it’s little Jimmy – that kid’s a booger factory – so worry about teaching them what two plus two equals (hint: 4). ↵

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↵Football fans should be happy about this policy. Maybe now, for a few hours on Sunday, Chad Ochocinco can focus on winning football games and not trying to win this ‘everybody look at me’ contest he’s obviously entered. ↵

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↵How This Impacts Media ↵

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↵It’s actually hard to tell if this policy is now in place to curtail players from using it, and media is collateral damage, or vice versa. ↵

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↵⇥Longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress apply fully to Twitter and other social media platforms. Internet sites may not post detailed information that approximates play-by-play during a game. While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organization's game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts. ↵
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↵This is far worse news for media than the above is for players. Twitter has become a part of media. Heck, there are even Twitter-based journalists now. But the NFL is protecting its enormous television and radio contracts by sticking to its guns on ‘live-blogging’ and tweeting from the press box. It’s actually a fine policy, in a bubble. But once you realize that guy sitting in the nosebleeds is more valuable to follow during the game than the guy sitting in the press box, there’s something not right about that. ↵

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↵The NFL probably isn’t worried about the average fan in the stands turning into a one-man live-tweeting media outlet during games, but they should be concerned about the average journalist sitting on his or her couch. We can live-blog and live-tweet whatever we like, and with players having the ability to use Twitter as soon as their media responsibilities are done, we’ll be reading and re-tweeting quotes from players – including answers to the questions we send them – before the press-boxed media even have a chance to get back to their seats to start transcribing quotes. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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